Simple Checks: Water Heaters

By: Sharrod Parker, Risk Control Leader

Our industry partner, Hartford Steam Boiler, recently shared valuable safety information regarding Water Heater Checks. We have taken the key points and compiled them below for you.

Water Heater Checks

A simple visual check of the pipes and fitting at the top of your water heater should reveal any signs of corrosion. If you can see corrosion at the connection between the steel and copper fittings, this could be an indication that galvanic corrosion is occurring.

When copper and steel are connected in the presence of a conductive liquid (the water in the pipe), an electrochemical reaction occurs that causes the steel to corrode at the point of connection. This process is called galvanic corrosion.

The corrosion process dissolves the steel pipe threads and severely weakens the pipe joint. It’s more serious than a simple pipe thread leak. Excessive water pressure from fast-closing automatic water valves used on washing machines and dishwashers can cause a weakened pipe-joint to burst unexpectedly.

What To Do if You Find Corrosion

If you find corrosion on copper-to-steel joints, it’s time to call your licensed plumbing contractor for a closer look. Your plumber can verify that the installation meets all local code requirements to prevent or reduce galvanic corrosion.

If corrosion has occurred at the pipe joints, new pipes and fittings will be required at the damaged locations. It’s best to catch and correct this early before it advances to a sudden and unexpected pipe burst and severe water damage to your property.